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The effect of climate and human impact in Sumatra, Indonesia - Long-term and modern palaeoecological studies in different rainforest and transformation systems

Sumatran rainforest ecosystems form a centre of biodiversity and endemism with manifold landscape and vegetation formations. However, during the past decades, Sumatran rainforest underwent a rapid transformation towards cash-crop dominated landscapes causing i.e., landscape fragmentation and diversity loss. Besides such anthropogenic impact climate is another important driver of ecosystem alteration. Past and present climatic changes and oscillations have a pronounced effect on Sumatran ecosystems (e.g., influencing plant phenology and reproductive success of many species) which is not yet fully understood. Modern and paleo-ecological studies are essential to investigate the role of climate variability and anthropogenic influence on Sumatran ecosystems.

The main aim of this study is, to identify the influence of past and present drivers of landscape alteration on Sumatra’s tropical lowland and highland rainforest and rainforest transformation systems. In a multi-proxy approach including pollen analysis of modern pollen traps and sediment samples, radiocarbon dating, XRF-scanning, charcoal analysis and non-pollen-palynomorphs, I connect paleo-ecological data and modern palynological data. As part of the international research collaboration CRC 990 (EFForTs project) this study will contribute to the overall understanding of ecological and socioeconomic functions across tropical land-use systems after rainforest conversion in Sumatra.
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